Appeals court rejects Boykins appeal

The Arkansas Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected the appeal of a Pine Bluff man who was sentenced to prison last year after being convicted of first-degree murder.

Tony Ray Boykins Jr., now 27, was sentenced to 40 years in prison on the murder charge and an additional 10 years for using a firearm to commit the murder, with the sentences to run consecutively (one after the other).

A jury of six women and six men found Boykins guilty in the shooting death of Brian K. Smith, 21, also of Pine Bluff, on July 27, 2011.

Because of a prior conviction for a violent crime (attempted first-degree murder in 2002), Boykins will have to serve 100 percent of the sentence for first-degree murder and 70 percent of the sentence for using a firearm to commit the crime before being eligible to apply for parole.

The appeal contended that Circuit Judge Berlin C. Jones erred by refusing to allow some testimony from a witness during the trial, testimony specifically making reference to a person who was identified only as “Pig,”

According to the testimony of Detective Richard Wegner, “Pig” was also involved in a fight between Smith, Simone Walker, who was the mother of Smith’s baby, and Terrell Boykins, the brother of Tony Boykins.

Wegner, who interviewed Terrell Boykins during the investigation, acknowledged in cross-examination that his summary of the case made reference to “Pig” and to another person who could not be identified by anyone at the apartment complex in the 1300 block of Maple Street where the shooting occurred.

Boykins’ defense attorneys contended during the trial that “Pig” was responsible for the shooting, and said several witnesses didn’t identify “Pig” because they were trying to protect him and send Boykins to prison.

“No one has come into this courtroom and said they saw anybody else do the shooting,” Deputy Prosecutor Cymber Gieringer said during closing arguments in the trial. “The only person identified was Tony Boykins and he shot Brian Smith.

“What benefit would the witnesses have for accusing Tony?” Gieringer said. “What makes sense about this is that maybe they said Tony did the shooting because Tony did the shooting.”

In rejecting the appeal, Chief Judge Robert Gladwin said “The testimony presented in this case pointed overwhelmingly to Appellant’s (Boykins) guilt. Four eyewitnesses testified to seeing appellant shoot Mr. Smith on the morning in question. Any additional evidence indicating there were other men at the scene of the crime does not negate the fact that appellant specifically was observed shooting Mr. Smith by those witnesses.”

Neither Tony Boykins nor Terrell Boykins testified during the trial.

Prosecutors contended that Terrell Boykins involved himself in a fight between Smith and Walker, and that Tony Boykins went to his car, got a gun, and shot Smith.

“He purposely went to his car, got a gun and shot twice,” Deputy Prosecutor Rik Ramsey said. “The medical examiner said the death was caused by a gunshot and the manner of death was homicide.”

Pine Bluff attorneys Greg Robinson and Erin West represented Tony Boykins during the trial.